UCLA Health describes menopause as, “The point in time when menstrual cycles permanently cease due to the natural depletion of ovarian oocytes from aging.” In general, the average woman reaches menopause at the age of 51. It is diagnosed after a menstruator has missed their period for 12 consecutive months. (Though menopause is not to be confused with symptoms of PCOS, which is usually diagnosed at a younger age.)
Menopause is a natural part of aging, but can be a frustrating time for many. As women often experience a flood of menopausal symptoms during this time, it’s best to know what to expect and be prepared. Some of the symptoms you can expect are: hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and low moods, a reduced sex drive, and problems with memory and/or concentration. The symptoms of menopause can be observed months or even years before you hit menopause. That’s why it’s important to listen to your body and visit your doctor if you’re experiencing any symptoms.
There are usually two concerns that women have when confronted with menopause. The first is coping emotionally with bodily changes. For generations, women have been told that their body has a “clock” or “deadline.” The notion goes that after a certain time, women will no longer be fertile and therefore, will not be desirable either. Not only has modern medicine invented ways in which postmenopausal women can conceive, but the body-clock myth is slowly fading away from society as well. Menopause shouldn’t have an effect on your mental wellbeing simple because of society’s unrealistic expectations of women.
The second concern that women have is dealing with the physical signs of menopause. If you encounter severe symptoms that interfere with your daily life, your doctor can prescribe lifestyle changes and medical treatments to help you manage your symptoms better. From eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, to hormone replacement therapy, there is an expansive list of mechanisms to help you handle the onset of menopause.
With the right information, ample resources, and a positive mental outlook, menopause won’t sound so scary anymore. It is a time to embrace and explore a new phase of your life.